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UB receives $1.1 million to improve study of Zika, dengue, HIV, hepatitis and other viruses in Jamaica

Posted April 26, 2018

The University at Buffalo has received a $1.1 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty International Center to lead the training of 15 scientists from Jamaica and the Caribbean in viral infection research.

The five-year grant will establish the Global Infectious Diseases Research Training Program, a research collaboration between the UB Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, University of the West Indies, State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University and Jamaica Ministry of Health.

Driven by the shortage of researchers available to conduct immediate research during the recent outbreaks of the Zika and chikungunya viruses, the Jamaica Ministry of Health named the establishment of a virology research program as one of Jamaica’s highest national health priorities.

The Global Infectious Diseases Research Training Program will produce a new generation of virology researchers in Jamaica by providing University of the West Indies graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with training at SUNY research laboratories.

“This new initiative will promote the development of Jamaica as a virology research hub in the Caribbean region and lead to exciting innovations and new collaborations among UB, SUNY and University of the West Indies faculty, fellows and graduate students,” says Gene Morse, PharmD, lead investigator on the award, director of the Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Co-principal investigators include Timothy Endy, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Disease at SUNY Upstate Medical University; and John Lindo, PhD, professor of parasite epidemiology at the University of the West Indies and director of national laboratory services at the Jamaica Ministry of Health.

Under the program, graduate students and fellows will gain clinical and translational science training, as well as develop an expertise in one or more of the following areas: arbovirology – viruses transmitted by arthropods, such as mosquitoes and ticks; chronic viral infections that include HIV, hepatitis B and C, and the Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses; or antiviral drug development.

Students and fellows will alternate periods of training at SUNY research labs under faculty mentors while completing research on endemic or life-threatening infectious diseases at the University of the West Indies.

Research training labs in pharmacology, virology and immunology will be established at the University at Buffalo, University at Albany, and Rush University, respectively. Jack DeHovitz, MD, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, will chair the program’s training advisory committee.

By increasing the number of virology researchers in Jamaica, the program aims to further advance the development of the Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research, a collaboration between SUNY, University of the West Indies and Jamaica Ministry of Health.

The program will also engage faculty of the SUNY Global Health Institute and build on UB’s designation as a Center of Excellence in the Global Virus Network, a worldwide coalition of institutions dedicated to the study and treatment of viral infection.

Source: State University of New York at Buffalo

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